It is hard to believe more than a month has passed since graduation from PA school. The month following the white coat ceremony has been a whirlwind (which is how I would describe my time in PA school), marked by end-of-year anticipation and festivities, studying overtime for, taking, and passing PANCE (PA National Certifying Exam), and everything that has happened since becoming a PA-C (certified PA). It was only after passing PANCE that I felt like I finally had closure. Before time moves us farther away, I want to celebrate my classmates – all of them, including the two we lost along the way.

I remember the very first time all 42 of us were in the same room. It was for orientation before the official start of the curriculum, and I remember sensing the collective excitement (with a tinge of anxiety) in the room. And over the following 28 months, we rode through quite a few waves – we unexpectedly went from 42 to 40 of us by the end of the second semester; a merger took place about halfway through the program which meant a WHOLE lot of changes and adjustments in the following months; then…oh, of course, the once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic about halfway through our clinical year of training! The ensuing 10 months had us pulled from clinical rotation sites, face seemingly endless virtual rotations and assignments, and persevere through frustration, uncertainty, and worries before the grand finale last month.

Throughout all of this and more, I have always got a kick out of calling these smart and talented people my classmates, and I have become friends with several of them which is awesome. In fact, I have countless fond memories – first, I am happy to be able to say I have talked one on one with every one of my classmates and everyone has treated me well, sometimes too well! I remember every moment I have talked to my classmates individually and this had always made me feel ‘cool.’ I’m grateful for their generosity and creativity in sharing resources, hosting events and activities (I had so many ‘firsts’ during the PA program thanks to classmates), making me smile or laugh out loud, and sometimes simply saying hi back. And I have always enjoyed having classmates attend my training sessions, such as Mental Health First Aid and Talk Saves Lives.

I am excited for what the future has in store for us and for where we will be in 5 or 10 years. But right now, I am celebrating us – all 42 of us.


  • Hwal Lee

    Thrive Global Campus Editor-at-Large from Radford University

    Hwal Lee is a community health PA and mental health advocate. Besides movies and boba tea, mental health education and outreach is his favourite hobby. Hwal completed his counsellor training in Australia, and is a nationally certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor in the U.S. He may have recently graduated, but learning must go on.